The Future of EAA – Nature vs Nurture

I have no idea if nature vs. nurture wins the battle because in our world it seems to be both. Dan was born into an aviation family, with his Dad being a P3 pilot and was raised around it at Our airpark, with his uncle Bob, Bob Woolley (Panther Builder) and friends making weekends fun and interesting for a growing teenage boy.

I have been told by my mother-in-law, Rhonda Weseman, that when Dan was in school he would repeatedly NOT write his name on the paper. However, the teacher always knew which one was his – because there would always be a doodle of an airplane somewhere in a corner.

As you all know our kids are a very big part of our lives – so sheer osmosis is totally going on here. I mean – I have a technical background with servers, databases and routing tables being my main focus for work – so how is it I can walk the walk and talk the talk? Because I am around it, live the passion in it, and have found my personal way to relate!

Luke came to us a few days ago with a conundrum. He loves the Thatcher CX-4 but can’t afford it (on his measley 2nd grader income). So he decided to hit us up to build the next best thing in his book – the Panther. Why? Because he knows where to gets parts – cheap! No dummies around here!

He worked with Dan starting on the rudder – using a skin that suffered a ding unfit for a customer (equals free for Luke). So off to work he goes – “Mom – can you print those pages from the builders manual for me?” and “How do I get this plastic off?”
Dan shows him a trick to use a tube to roll it off…


Then “What do you mean we don’t have center ribs for the rudder formed? I can use the press to make the part!”



We all had a great time with Luke learning how to hone in his skills on removing PVC, deburring, clecoes and following the plans and builders manual. Dan and I both thought – how long is this going to last?

The answer is – who knows? But it’s good right? No matter how long?

Our school system sends what they call a weekly folder home on Wednesday. This folder contains all the papers, tests, grades for the week for parents to review.

So – I go through it like I do every week and sign my name like I always do.

And I notice something on the back of Luke’s papers. I look at Dan, and show him and say – “Uh Oh…”


So – is it simply that Dan has the genes for aviation, or is it that he was raised in the atmosphere for love of aviation and the opportunities that it brings? I think that both go hand in hand… Enthusiasm is catching, and if you are exposed it bleeds into your soul. No matter what it is.

Time to step up the involvement – to promote Experimental Aviation! I mean – look at that face! Excitement is bursting from it!

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6 Responses to The Future of EAA – Nature vs Nurture

  1. joe says:

    So Rachel are you going to let him fly his Panther when he turns 16. You da man

  2. Dan Branstrom says:

    Rachael, I forwarded this to many of my pilot friends. I loved it.

  3. Ron Franck says:

    I lacked any kind of aviation related influence while growing up. My family piloted the likes of John Deeres, J.I. Cases and Farmalls.
    When I was a youngster I had dreams of small plastic toy airplanes falling from the sky and littering our yard. I think they were like the ones found in CrackerJacks boxes as a prize(?). That has always stuck with me and I always turned my eyes skyward when an aircraft could be heard overhead.
    A neighbor owned a private airstrip from which he flew a Breezy. A few rides in that and you are hooked. I learned to fly in a Cessna 150 which in turn prompted me to build an ultralight, which I still enjoy today. I now have the Panther tail kit awaiting my attention which I had better get cracking on because the next metamorphosis I feel coming on involves a pair of wings sprouting from my shoulders……..well, one can only hope they are wings anyway.

  4. Harold Bickford says:

    Nature/nurture is a conundrum. Our older son was apparently born to serve and 22 years later he still wears the uniform. Our younger son was fascinated with math and calculators and is now a s/w engineer. Our older daughter loves kids and teaches 7/8 grade science. Our younger daughter has spent her adult life in social work having always had a sense for helping others.

    I haven’t figured what I’ll be when I grow up but it does seem to be related to things like the EAA.


  5. Eric says:

    Rachel, this was such a great post I called Julie over and read it to her. I love little stories like this and knowing you guys and what a great family you have made it all the more enjoyable.

  6. I cant think of a better way for a kid to learn all of the stuff that they dont teach in school anymore than building and airplane. What better way to learn patience, to read and follow directions, to use tools, to be a critical thinker, to find out it is ok to make mistakes and learn from them, and use math in a practical way. They can also learn discipline, work habits and first aid. 🙂

    I’ll never forget my daughter helping me work on an airplane when she was young. We needed to find the middle of a piece of metal and we measured the width at 5/8ths of an inch. I said, “now, what is half of 5/8ths?” She looked at me like she couldn’t believe I’d ask a simple question like that and said, “2 and 1/2, 1/8ths” as if I should have already known that.

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